Google I/O

Google gets smart with Google Assistant and Google Home

At Google I/O, company unveils A.I.-based personal assistants

Google is launching a smart personal assistant that uses artificial intelligence and search to let people not just get answers to their questions but to even control their devices.

Google wants users to be able to do more than ask Google Assistant what the weather will be that day.

Google says its new assistant will make movie suggestions based on what films you've liked before. Going to the theater with your kids? Google Assistant will change its recommendations accordingly. It'll offer up moview reviews and buy your tickets for you.

That's the plan for the software that Google envisions will be embedded in devices from smartphones to home devices and, eventually, cars.

"We think of it as a conversational assistant, having an ongoing two-way dialogue with Google," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said during the keynote at Google I/O today in Mountain View, Calif. "We want to get things done in the real world. Think of this as building each user his own individual Google."

The company also announced that Google Assistant software will be built into a new device dubbed Google Home.

The small device, which can sit in the palm of your hand, looks reminiscent of Amazon's Echo and is built so users can ask it questions and give it verbal instructions. That allows it to manage and control home entertainment systems as well as your smart home devices.

"When I walk into my house, I want to interact with the Google Assistant, but I want to do it hands free," said Mario Queiroz, a Google vice president, speaking during today's keynote. "That's why we're creating Google Home, a device we're releasing later this year. It will manage entertainment and your everyday tasks. It will let anyone in the family, kids or adults, have a conversation with Google."

google home

Google Home

With a built-in speaker, Google Home will play your music from the cloud or your device and it will respond to questions you ask, whether it's about traffic congestion on your route to work or how much fat is in an avocado.

Queiroz also noted that Google wants to work with third-party developers to move Google Home out of the...well, home.

"Having access to the Google Assistant will make this like a voice-activated connection to the real world," he added. "We're designing Google Home to connect to your smart home seamlessly. In the future, we will work with developers to go beyond the home, like managing your car and sending your mom flowers."

"Google Home could be a major force and could also dramatically decrease the sales potential of Amazon Echo," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, who is attending Google I O. "Google Home also enables connections to TVs and other non-intelligent speakers with a dongle and Echo cannot. In the end, Google will likely win over Amazon."

During the keynote, Google also announced that Google Assistant is being incorporated into a new chat app called Allo, as well as into a new video chat app called Duo.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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